Sunday, January 27, 2008

January 25th photos critiqued by my teacher, Carol Leigh.

Just up- the critique from my teacher, Carol Leigh
on the 3 photos I posted a couple of days ago……. I haven't been this nervous in a long time. I don't know why it was so scary but I sat for 10 minutes with my finger on the upload my photos tab when first posting these photos to be critiqued AND viewed by the other students (many professionals).


What a terrific concept, a terrific idea,

and a terrific presentation.

Your colors are vivid and bright and

catch our eye immediately. You arranged

your pencils like the rays of the sun,

choosing to have the focal point -- where

they all come together -- in the upper left,

pursuant to the Rule of Thirds. And you

absolutely filled your frame with

repeating patterns and color, cropping in

just perfectly so we don't have any pencil

"ends" in the shot to take away from the pattern.

Clever you, choosing yellow and purple paper for your background, and making sure the yellow

was on the purple and the purple was on the yellow.

What about the lighting? Is it too harsh? Are there ugly dark shadows and annoying hot spots?

Nope. Your lighting is bright, but it works well in this case. Yes, you have shadows, but they

add to the repetitive pattern that you created, and I think they create a lot of interest.

What about depth of field? You opted for relatively shallow DOF, i.e.

not much in focus from front to back. Is your depth of field too shallow?

Nope. Where the pencil points come together — your focal point — is

in focus, which is good. You've made sure that your focal point is sharp

so we know exactly where to look. The focus becomes shallower as the

pencils come toward us, but it's not SO shallow that we don't know what

they are.

Your first class with me. Your first picture. Your first critique. See? Not

so scary, is it? You should be pleased with this photograph. I wish I'd

thought of doing it. (Note to self: next time at Staples, pick up some

purple and yellow pencils . . .)


I love what you did here. I like how the books look weathered and rich. I like the subtle colors

in the bird sculpture. I like the combination of the red and the green. Nicely done.


What about the lighting? It's light and

bright and looks good. There's a shadow

on the right (created by the bird) that

adds an extra dimension to your picture.

What the light has done, however, is it's

created a little bit of glare on the spine of

the red book, which is just a hair


Normally, this wouldn't be a problem.

However, look at your Wordsworth book.

Look at the book under the red one. And

look at the dusty colors of the bird. All

this adds up to a certain richness, opulence, oldtimey

feeling, like something we would see on a

shelf in one's den or library. Such cheerful lighting

on such darkish, moody subjects can be distracting. I

think that if your red book had been a bit more

weathered, the spine might not have been so

reflective and so prominent.

I'm being incredibly picky here, however. You set

this up very, very well.

So what about the composition? I'm thinking that the

items of interest are the three books and the bird. But

it looks like there's a lighter-colored book to the left

of Wordsworth. And there's a fair amount of empty

space to the right of the bird. What if we were to

crop in a little bit, limiting your photo to just the

essential bits? Here's what I mean (middle left). And

then, what if we were to darken the foreground green

area so that it adds to the dark, rich, weathered tones

in the rest of the picture? Here's what I mean:

(To darken the green, all I did was take

the Burn tool and whiff it across the green.) I couldn't load Carol's cropped shot so I quickly duplicated what she had done to show me the difference .

Good picture, good set-up, good idea.

Here is the photo I posted for a comparison in how much difference Carol's suggestion make.


Yeah, I wish this

were me, too . . . The best part about this picture is the

combination of her golden leg against the blue water. That's

where our eye immediately goes first. Then we look around to

see what else is in the shot.


This is where we begin running into

problems. Is the bit of fabric at the

end of the chair a dress, a towel? Is

she wearing the top part of her

bikini (speaking for certain

members in this class)? Is this

indeed a female? What's the dark

thing in the sand in the lower lefthand

corner? Most of her body is in

shade and her head's relatively


So although your photo has a beautifully lighted element in it, there's so much other stuff going

on, so many questions that arise, that we're distracted from the golden leg and it loses its


We all do this. We see a lovely form, beautiful lighting, great colors, and we don't pay attention

to the rest of the surroundings, to the detriment of the key element in our shot.

Bottom line? Your first two photos, the ones that you set up, were your best. Your outdoor "as

found" shot turned out to be your weakest. Who woulda thought?! I think (based on your "gotta

go" signature and the photos I saw on your website, that you're a zoom, zoom, zoom sort of

person. This class is going to slow you down a bit, but I think it's going to make you a much

better photographer as a result. You should be pleased with what you've done so far. Thanks for

posting these.

Carol Leigh

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting your teachers is so cool to get to read what she has to say!!! Love how thorough she is, I see why you are so happy taking this class. YOU ROCK!!!!